**Contains Spoilers for the latest episode of GoT**
Following last week’s rather boisterous episode, which culminated in one of the best moments of this season, is an episode more functional than phenomenal. With such a vast volume of characters it’s understandable that we will have to put up with some episodes containing set up sequences for the weeks ahead and with the final few episodes usually reserved for the culmination of numerous storylines it means this week was devoted to putting the pieces in place. However how interesting do these storylines currently look, and are we interested in how they play out. Here’s the Westeros based low down.
A Stark returns
There must be something in the water? Game of Thrones, as it displayed last week, has a fondness for killing off beloved characters but having seen John Snow resurrected we finally saw the return of Benjen Stark, former First Ranger of the Nights Watch. Alone in a blizzard being pursued by Ice zombies and with Bran having a vision frenzy (more on that later) Meera Reed, exhausted, gives up and embraces Bran having resigned herself to their fate. However the pair are saved when a rider in black arrives, wielding a peculiar mace-like weapon and dispatches of the wights with little issue.
The rider later reveals himself to be Benjen Stark, revived by the children of the forest having been slain in battle by a White Walker. He claims to have been summoned by the Three Eyed Raven, and with the old Raven dead he is now in service to his nephew Bran. How death has affected Benjen Stark is yet to be seen but he appears to have retained his characteristics and it’s always nice to know there’s another Stark around. They do die so frequently. Also how about Bran’s vision? We got a glimpse of the mad King, and an even briefer glimpse of Jaimie Lannister kebabing him. With Bran’s apparent time travel-like abilities these visions of Aery’s wildfire obsession must be somehow linked to what is to come. Whether Aery’s was somehow directly influenced in his madness by Bran or the previous Three Eyed Raven, or his Wildfyre stores will be somehow important in the future battle against the White Walkers, only time will tell.
We meet another awful father.
Game of Thrones has plenty of awful characters, but fathers seem to be especially horrible throughout the series. Tywin Lannister was a popular character on the show but his treatment of Tyrion was definitely the darkest part of his character. Now Tywin looks a contender for Dad of the year following our introduction to Randyll Tarley, father of Samwell. Having returned to Horn Hill so Gilly and little Sam have a place to stay whilst he trains as a Maester we meet Sam’s mother and sister who are both very pleasant, apparently loving and highly enthusiastic upon meeting Gilly and Little Sam. Having expected Sam to turn up and be treated as an outcast by his whole family it was a welcome surprise to see him greeted with open arms, particularly by his mother. Even when we meet his brother, who has unwillingly usurped his position as heir to Horn Hill, he seems perhaps a little rude but in Westeros a “little rude” could get you a Nobel peace prize. Randyll on the other hand does nothing to hide his disdain for the “fat” and “soft” son he has no respect for and whom he insults constantly in front of his whole family, humiliating him. Sam doesn’t respond, in fear his father may dismiss Gilly and little Sam from the household, so Gilly does defending Sam and angers Randyll even further when he discovers she’s a wildling. For all his cruelty he does allow them to stay, probably because his wife would rip his dick off otherwise. However Sam changes his mind, steals the Tarley family sword ‘Heartsbane’, and absconds with Gilly and little Sam. Whether he plans on taking them with him to the citadel or elsewhere remains to be seen.
No one no more.
Following all those weeks of stick fighting to become no one Arya gives it all up when her conscience gets the better of her. Watching the mummer’s play once again (presumably so she can at least see someone dressed as Joffrey die having missed out on the real thing) Arya sneaks backstage and poisons Lady Crane’s rum bottle. Whilst leaving she is stopped by her target and finds herself engaged in a conversation that draws similarities between the pair. Arya manages to talk her way out without arousing suspicion only to return in the nick of time to stop Lady Crane drinking the poison and warn her that Bianca, another member of the company, wants her dead. The Waif is nearby and witnesses Arya’s failure of the set task. Arya goes back to the beach where she buried Needle and retrieves her precious sword whilst the Waif reports back to Jaqen H’gar who grants her permission to kill Arya, under the condition she doesn’t suffer. Having flirted with the idea of being faceless for so long Arya’s inability to perform the execution was not surprising. She’s been instilled with a powerful sense of retribution, vengeance and perhaps hoped her transition into the order of the Faceless men would aid her vigilantism. Having being tasked to murder a woman guilty of no crime, on the behalf of a jealous co-star, went against Arya’s, admittedly brutal, sense of justice. Going against such a dangerous group will no doubt put Arya in danger, especially considering the Waif’s staunch dislike of her, but it was pleasing to see that Jaqen, so heavily devoted to the many-faced-God, at least gave the order of her death with the caveat of mercy. How Arya will deal with the aftermath of this will be an intriguing prospect.
Have you heard the good news?
Following weeks of power plays between the High Sparrow, Jaime Lannister, Margery and Tommen we finally found ourselves awaiting Margery’s walk of atonement. Jaimie leads the Tyrell army into the city and confronts the High Sparrow on the steps of the sept with the threat of liberating Margery and Loras by force. With an apparently unnegotiable stand-off insight the High Sparrow announces that Margery will not have to make the walk and Tommen then emerges from the sept to publically join forces with the faith militant. In the previous scene we see Margery is now firmly dancing to the High Sparrow’s tune following her realisation that she will have to co-operate in order to free herself and her brother. It appears the price set for her freedom was swaying Tommen’s support to the church using her manipulative skills, a task she performs with ease.
Tommen then strips Jaimie of his Lord Commander title and orders him to help Walder Frey retake Riverrun from the Blackfish. An angered Jaimie tells Cersei of his understandable frustrations and even threatens to get Bronn to assist him in performing a ‘hit’ on the High Sparrow (perhaps a notable line because of Bronn’s non-appearance so far this season). Cersei calms him and persuades him to retake Riverrun, telling him not to worry about her trial by combat as she has Ser Robert Strong fighting on her behalf (something she seems too confident about, considering this is GoT and even the slightest misjudgement can result in a sword up the bum).
We Welcome Back Lord Walder
Walder Frey is a despicable character, let me just say that, his part in the deaths of so many beloved characters along with his putrid manner make him a top contender on my GoT deathlist (Which I obviously recite each night before bed). That being said David Bradley is terrific as Walder Frey, perfectly cast; his acidic barbs are darkly hilarious especially in this episode where he directs his formidable toxicity on his own family. He announces his intent to retake Riverrun revealing his ‘ace in the hole’ Edmure Tully alive, and in chains. Let’s hope Edmure’s return to the series has more longevity than that of Osha, who lasted about 3 minutes following a 3 season absence.
Blood of my Blood
Dany pops up for the episodes finale discussing her intent to sail for Westeros (FINALLY), before waltzing off on her own for a little bit, only to return of the back of Drogon to give another big speech about how she’s going to go to Westeros (FINALLY). The speech is touching in parts, Dany forgoes the tradition of naming three blood riders and simply makes her whole army her blood riders. Talk about empowering your people. The scene has a lot of Dothraki waving their swords about and one poor guy who got short changed with a knife by the prop department. Fair play to the actor as he waves that thing around as passionately as he can, but he does look pretty damn ridiculous. This leaves Dany, having been stuck in shit creek a few episodes ago, with a massive army, a dragon she can seemingly wield and now just lacking the transport to invade Westeros.
No one – Seriously no one dies. No named characters. In fact the only extras that go down are wights slayed by Benjen and they’re already dead. There is also the brief glimpse of Aery’s being stabbed in a flashback but that is it. The last episode where no one died was Season 3 Episode 7 “The Bear and the Maiden Bear”.
- Benjen Stark’s return brings to an end a twenty year mystery regarding his disappearance, if you’re a book reader. Hopefully we will get more details in the upcoming episodes.
- Following Randyll’s insulting of Sam and Gilly it’s safe to say he’s in the doghouse with his wife, Melessa.
- Will Arya end up in a stick fight to the death with the Waif? I hope not, I don’t think I can surmise in the English language how sick I am of all the stick fighting.
- Is Jaqen truly done with Arya, or is there a larger plan at work? He said a face will be added to the wall no matter what. But does he care what face Arya brings him?
- Richard E. Grant has to be doing something in particular in this series right? There has to be a reason he was cast.
- Is Tommen the easiest character to manipulate ever? He literally does whatever any character asks him every episode. Littlefinger would have a field day.
- Having said that is Tommen now under the guidance of Cersei? They had that talk a few episodes ago about her helping him, is he making this pact with the Sparrow under her orders?
- Jaimie been stripped of his Kingsguard title is interesting. Does this allow him to become Lord of Casterly Rock in the future?
- Mace Tyrell should give all the pre-battle speeches. All whilst wearing his feathery helmet.
- Cersei’s trial by combat is coming up. She’s been championed by the Mountain, but who is going to fight for the faith? Perhaps Lancel Lannister, for shits and gigs? There are rumours of a once thought dead character returning towards the end of this season who could be up to the task. We could find out next week in “The Broken Man”
- Dany needs a thousand ships. Last week Euron said he wanted a thousand ships built. Coincidence?
- I hope Dany gets to Westeros before my body is forfeit to the passage of time.
Episode Rating 3/5 – A lot of interesting plot set ups, but with little actual action this week. Still a good episode and I’m clamouring for more.